Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tom Waterhouse believed to have been offered $500m for bookmaking business

This has got nothing to do with politics but I am running a small excerpt because I like Tom's attitude.  It's great to find a man who loves his job.  I might perhaps note that bookies attract great respect in Australia so that may help form his attitude

BETTING'S "everywhere man" Tom Waterhouse is believed to have been offered at least $500 million to sell his thriving bookmaking business.  A leading UK-based betting operator is rumoured to have made the substantial offer to buy out the nation's biggest individual bookmaker.

In an interview late last year, Waterhouse said he has no intention of selling his bookmaking operation.

"I still want to be doing this business in 50 years," Waterhouse said.  "What do I need to sell it for? I wouldn't want to change my lifestyle. If I had the choice of lying on the beach or being a bookie, I'd be a bookie."

Born to be a bookie, Waterhouse is continuing the family tradition of his grandfather Bill and father Robbie.

Bill was once the world's biggest bookmaker and although retired, he retains an active role in family's betting operations. Robbie remains one of Sydney's leading rails bookies and a form expert.


Media giants warn Communications Minister Stephen Conroy power grab threatens us all
TELEVISION and newspaper bosses have demanded federal MPs reject proposed media changes, warning they would put at risk what Australians can watch and read.

In dramatic scenes in Canberra yesterday, Channel 7 owner Kerry Stokes blasted the plans as "draconian", News Limited boss Kim Williams said they were undemocratic and Fairfax chief Greg Hywood said the Government was seeking to impose a "nuclear option" on its critics.

Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews indicated he also was against the media changes, in a fresh blow to the Gillard Government.

As Julia Gillard's critics inside Labor claimed the legislation was a test of her authority and leadership, the Prime Minister said she was open to "sensible suggestions".

After talks between Ms Gillard and independent MP Rob Oakeshott broke down and he told the PM in writing he would not support any of the six media reform Bills, the Government was last night "actively considering" a compromise plan by Greens leader Christine Milne to "save" the legislation.

The Greens said they would vote with Labor if legislation were changed to "better define" a proposed public interest test, protect regional news and allow only two existing press councils.

Mr Stokes, chairman of Seven West Media, said the Media Advocate at the centre of the changes was a "sledgehammer" with power beyond that of the Tax Commissioner.

He told a snap Senate inquiry that in his 40 years in the media "I have never seen anything so intrusive ... can only recall legislation in this haste in the wake of 9/11".  "The legislation is in my opinion draconian," he said.

Mr Williams said News Limited, which owns the Herald Sun, would mount a High Court challenge if the laws were passed.  "In the event that these laws are passed we will immediately be seeking leave to appeal to the High Court," he told the committee.

"These Bills breach constitutional rights, equate to direct government intervention and regulation of the media, and are a direct attack on free speech, innovation, investment and job creation," he said.

"These proposals will affect every Australian and the quality of their democracy. This is bad legislation with a bad process."

Mr Williams released a 20-page open letter to all MPs that he said was a "sober, non-hysterical analysis" of the problems. He said it was inappropriate the Media Advocate would rule on mergers and oversee reporting standards.

Mr Hywood, whose company, Fairfax, owns The Age, said the regulatory powers would have "too many dangers in the long term" and would "shut down" a news organisation.  "This is a nuclear option," he said.

He said the Advocate wouldn't be independent, as ministers appointed those who reflected their views.

Ten Network's Hamish McLennan said more regulation was not needed, while Foxtel's Richard Freudenstein objected to "flawed" legislation.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the Advocate would not look over the shoulder of media or rule on complaints.  "The Advocate's job is simply to say: does the Press Council uphold its own standards?  "The Advocate has no role in setting those standards."

Labor senator and committee chairman Doug Cameron referred to the phone hacking scandal in the UK.  "I find it absolutely breathtaking to be lectured by the Murdoch press about the privacy laws," he said.

Mr Williams said two independent inquiries had found no such activity had taken place in Australia.

Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews expressed reservations about the media changes.  "I ... believe freedom of the press is integral to our democracy," he said.  "People are right to take a free press and free speech very seriously. I certainly do."

Premier Denis Napthine said he had severe misgivings. "I am flabbergasted that the Federal Government would want to curtail the free speech in the media of this state," he said.

TV bosses were at odds at a separate inquiry looking at abolishing the "75 per cent reach" rule that prevented network broadcasting to more than three-quarters of the population.

Nine Network chief David Gyngell, whose company wanted to buy the Southern Cross network if the rule was axed, said it was outdated, owing to the internet.

"I wouldn't allow the 75 per cent rule to be removed without the certainty of the high-quality news content viewers currently receive," he said, adding that regional journalists would keep their jobs.

Other networks oppose the change.

The Senate committee is due to hand down an interim report on Wednesday, while the joint select committee will report on the reach rule on Tuesday.


Qld moves to resume uranium mining

The Queensland Government is moving ahead with plans to restart uranium mining in the state, with a committee handing Cabinet a report that makes 40 recommendations on the matter.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps says an inter-departmental committee will be set up to consider the findings.

"This group will submit a draft report to the Resources Cabinet Committee outlining an implementation strategy for the recommendations, including identification of any budget implications and necessary legislative changes," he said.

"We will also establish a Uranium Mining Stakeholder Committee comprising representatives from local governments, Indigenous groups, industry, environment and natural resource management groups in accordance with the report's recommendations."

Mr Cripps would not specify a timeline for implementing the findings.

Uranium was last mined in Queensland in 1982 near Mount Isa in the state's north-west.  It was banned by a Labor state government seven years later.

Committee chair Paul Bell says they have also recommended the development of environmental conditions specifically for uranium mining.

"There is a basic framework there in place now to provide a very safe and a very good place for people to not only work but certainly for communities to be ensured that safety in transport is now being able to be maintained in this industry," he said.

Mr Cripps says jobs will be a flow-on from the resumption of uranium mining.

"Particularly for regional and rural communities in Queensland, job opportunities and in particular to Indigenous communities in rural and remote areas of this state," he said.

The Queensland Resources Council says the community is on board with uranium mining because of the new investment and work it will create.


Duck hunting protesters urged to respect laws

Protesters are being urged to abide by new laws governing this year's duck hunting season in Victoria.  The season starts today with protesters, hunters and police gathering at Lake Cullen in the state's north-west.

High rainfall has meant record duck numbers this year, and the Coalition Against Duck Shooting is calling for the sport to be banned.

But new laws mean protesters and the media are not allowed to go within 25 metres of the lake's edge.

Laurie Levy from the Coalition Against Duck Shooting has questioned the purpose of the newly-introduced exclusion zones, saying he does not think they are designed for safety, but to protect shooters.

"Game Victoria's role is as the gamekeepers," he said.  "They look after duck shooters and we have to be out there to look after our native waterbirds, because there isn't anyone else doing it.  "We're not protesters, we see our role as being similar to the Red Cross.

"We go into a war zone to help the innocent victims.  "We're not out there protesting - we're out there opposing duck shooting, yes - but we're also helping the innocent victims that duck shooters leave behind."

Mr Levy added the coalition's constant campaigning has dramatically reduced the number of duck hunters.  "If you go back 20 years there were thousands and thousands of them, and public opinion has reduced duck shooters by 75,000-80,000," he said.

The CEO of the Sporting Shooters Association, Wayne Holdsworth, insists safety is their main priority.

The Victorian Government predicts good conditions will allow for a full 12-week season.


Union braces for next chapter in ICAC probe

The coal miners' union is bracing itself for a damaging series of revelations from an anti-corruption inquiry involving a well-respected former leader.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption's (ICAC) probe into the granting of mining licences to entities connected to the family of New South Wales Labor Party powerbroker Eddie Obeid has already damaged the ALP.

Now the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is bracing itself for a reputational hit in the next part of the inquiry, which is due to begin on Monday.

The CFMEU's former national secretary, John Maitland, is staying out of the public eye at the moment and has cancelled today's public auction of a $1.6 million farm near Kempsey on the NSW north coast.

However the former union veteran still has $5-million-worth of property on the market, including a $3 million property in Victoria owned through his family company, Jonca.

Mr Maitland bought the farms after he became a multi-millionaire just four years after retiring as CFMEU head.

That wealth came on the back of an investment of less than $200,000 and a mining licence issued by his friend, the then state mining minister, Ian Macdonald.

It was the same year Mr Maitland became a Member of the Order of Australia, in recognition of his services to international and Australian industrial relations.

Now, the unravelling of the story of the rise from union man to rich mining investor threatens to drag in his former union colleagues.


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